On December 30th, 2021, Pottawattamie County purchased Mt. Crescent Ski Area in Honey Creek, IA with support from the Iowa West Foundation, an advocate of sustainable regional development. Mount Crescent sits directly south of Pottawattamie County park Hitchcock Nature Center and is nestled in the globally significant Loess Hills. The $3.5 million deal was several years in the making with initial county discussions taking place in the early 1990s.
Mt. Crescent will continue to be run and managed by the previous owners through the remaining 2022 ski season. Pottawattamie County will assume full responsibility in the summer of 2022 and at that time will begin exploring the feasibility of further recreational development of the area.
Read more about this announcement in our press release. More details will be released throughout the following months.
Share your feedback, questions, or concerns online through the form below or by mail to the following address:
227 S. 6th Street, Suite 204
Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501
Your feedback will be used by Pottawattamie County to better understand public sentiment and respond to questions or concerns. Thank you!
First, we want to offer some background information: Iowa and Pottawattamie County actually have very little public land that its citizens can use for recreation, hunting, camping, or hiking. In fact, Iowa ranks 49 out of 50 states for public land access, and even though Pottawattamie County is the 2nd largest county in the state, we rank near the bottom when it comes to the number of outdoor areas available for public use. The average county in Iowa offers nearly three times the amount of public land per person when compared to Pottawattamie County, which owns just 0.3% of land in the county.
As a conservation department whose mission is to preserve natural areas for the public's benefit, some might say we have some work to do. As more and more wild spaces are disappearing, we want to better serve residents by healing, caring for, and inviting you to enjoy natural areas that are ecologically significant and not feasible for most other types of development. By doing so, we can ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy the land's beauty, recreation opportunities, and ecological benefits.
Sometimes landowners approach us and sometimes we approach them. Our goal is to develop a positive relationship with the landowner, let them know that when the time comes we’d be interested in discussing buying their land, and over time we allow them to see the respect with which we treat county parks and habitat areas and the recreational opportunities they provide to the public. Sometimes this takes decades, but many landowners decide that allowing their land to be protected and used by the public is the legacy that they would like to leave. All properties acquired at Hitchcock Nature Center have been from willing sellers who believe in our mission and want their land to be accessible to the public.
Having unique and high-quality recreation opportunities improves the health of communities in our county. Economically speaking, high-quality recreation opportunities and spaces not only increase tourism and revenue for local business, but also attracts more families to live, work, play, and buy here. Recreation areas also provide physical and mental benefits for residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this clearer than ever as families near and far looked to the outdoors as a refuge and space to recharge and reconnect.
Mt. Crescent is in close proximity to public-owned Hitchcock Nature Center, is just 20 minutes from Council Bluffs and Omaha, and is nestled in the globally significant Loess Hills, a land formation only found in China and along the western edge of Iowa.
The Loess Hills:
This area of the Loess Hills harbors remnant prairie and woodland systems that not only are beautiful, but also protect water quality, support pollinators, and prevent erosion. With less than 0.1% of remnant prairie remaining in the state, it’s important to protect what little is left. Due to steep topography, areas in the Loess Hills are generally not farmable or able to be developed, making it a great area for recreation and even skiing in the middle of the Great Plains!
The county has been interested in Mt. Crescent ever since it acquired Hitchcock Nature Center in 1991. We’ve been through several negotiations with previous owners since then and have thought long and hard about how this land can benefit residents.
Mt. Crescent will continue to be managed by the previous owners until the end of June 2022, and then the county will assume full ownership. We are currently working on conducting a feasibility study that will help us better understand Mt. Crescent’s recreational opportunities and possible limitations and plan to share these findings during community listening sessions later this year.
Our intention is to utilize Mt. Crescent in a way that provides the most benefit for residents like you and beyond, while also preserving native wildlife and ecosystems found only in the Loess Hills region. We see every day how special this area is and feel an immense sense of responsibility to protect it for public use. We hope that through our actions, we can further your pride in the county you call home.
17026 Snowhill Ln
Honey Creek, Iowa
From Interstate I-29 take the Crescent exit and travel east to The Old Lincoln Highway. Mt. Crescent is located about 3 miles north of Crescent off of Old Lincoln Highway.
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